ZACHARY — Midway through the fourth quarter of Thursday night’s Class 5A girl’s basketball regional playoff game, Sulphur coach Helen LeFevre shouted an order to her team from the sidelines.
“Don’t let it happen again,” she yelled, referring to Bronco guard Alyssa McKneely, who had scored a team-high 18 points up to that point.
The No. 6 Lady Tors not only heeded their coach’s command, but took it to a whole new level, holding No. 22 Zachary to just four fourth-quarter points while putting up 20 of their own to secure a 52-40 win.
“We were so focused on No. 23 and No. 15,” LeFevre said. “We knew (McKneely) was a good player, and she came out hitting those shots. The first half we thought maybe she wasn’t going to hit enough to beat us, but she was. “We had to make adjustments at halftime.”
The adjustments paid off, as Sulphur (27-3) held McKneely scoreless in the fourth quarter and closed the game on a 17-0 run to advance to the quarterfinals.
Sulphur will play No. 3 Ouachita Parish, who beat No. 14 Mount Carmel 6-47 on Thursday, at home Monday.
“We knew they were a No. 22 team, but that was ranking only,” LeFevre said. “That doesn’t mean anything. We missed a whole bunch of shots early and hit enough at the end to get a lead.”
While the scoreboard shows a 12-point loss for Zachary, the Broncos held their own for the first 28 minutes.
The two teams were tied after each of the first two quarters, and Zachary held a 36-32 lead heading into the final quarter.
The Broncos led by as many as six early in the fourth quarter, but hit a brick wall in the final five minutes, failing to make a basket and turning the ball over against Sulphur’s stout defense.
“For some odd reason, we just couldn’t close the deal,” Zachary coach Patrick Jenkins said. “We kept fumbling, we gambled, we missed some assignments defensively. (Sulphur) is a good team.
“You’ve got to tip your hats off to them. They knocked down some big shots at the end.”
Four Lady Tors reached double digits, with two posting double-doubles.
Kristina Metoyer and Ally Cupit each scored 14 points for Sulphur, followed by Hannah Cupit with 13 and Lauren Pace with 11.
Metoyer and Pace each snagged 12 rebounds as the Lady Tors outrebounded Zachary 34-18.
LeFevre called the rebounding numbers “the difference in the game,” and Jenkins didn’t hesitated to agree.
“The bottom line, the short version, is we didn’t rebound well,” Jenkins said. “Rebounding is dirty. It’s something no one wants to do, but it has to be done. Their bigs went in there and got the rebounds at the end.”
McKneely was the only Bronco in double digits, adding three rebounds and a steal. Senior guard Jasmine Mitchell added nine points.